March 23, 2017

Most Important Game of the Season?

20 March 2017, 11:44 | Max Haynes

Most Important Game of the Season?

Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin celebrate Bergeron's series-winning overtime goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs

The Maple Leafs' increasingly wobbly defence will get some help in a big showdown against the Bruins on Monday night.

The Boston Bruins have been looking over their shoulders at the Toronto Maple Leafs as the teams jockey for playoff spots and seedings. Did they do the same on Sunday night?

"I was watching those games as a fan and I can tell the guys in here don't like talking about it".

"That (Game 7) is definitely one I won't forget, for sure", Kadri said. "It continues to be important that when we get the first goal, our chances increase". Pastrnak said there's always some "chirping" between the two during their National Hockey League head-to-head meetings. "Obviously we know what's going on in the games around us". It's a game that Mike Babcock's team has to win. That's why they pay you, to go through the injuries, the trips on the road, the back-to-backs. We have to make them work 200 feet to score and do a better job in front of our net. Nylander's hat trick against Boston marked the start of a blistering 21-game run for the Swede who has scored eight times and registered 12 assists in that stretch.

Why this could happen: If they follow the script of the last two seasons and stumble down the homestretch while Toronto (2 games in hand) catches fire, the Bruins might have to hope they can hold off either Tampa Bay or the Islanders and squeak into the postseason, where a first round date with either top seeded Washington or Columbus would await. How does Nazem Kadri look at the standings these days? "Look up, look down, I mean, sideways, it doesn't matter". "We're looking all over the place".

Toronto didn't take a penalty on Saturday against the Blackhawks, a good trend because Boston boasts the NHL's second-best killing squad. It is the final meeting between both teams and a chance for the Leafs to prove that they belong in the playoff discussion. "Not get rid of", said Brad Marchand. It's a huge game, no question.

- There was a ton of respect for Marchand in the Leafs dressing room on Monday morning.

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Backes has 15 goals and 34 points in 63 games this season. "That's not really surprising". Oshie opening the scoring on a pretty passing play. "I think he plays the game hard".

Auston Matthews was linemates with Marchand at the All-Star Game in Los Angeles.

The real test for the Leafs will be on defense.

"I expect him to play, but I'll know more in a couple of hours", Cassidy said. Matthews certainly appreciates the way the Nova Scotia native plays. "I like that. He can get (the puck) through from the blue line, too". He plays with a lot of passion out there. Thankfully for the Leafs, those season series are already over. Teams are playing for their lives. "It's going to be a battle".

- James van Riemsdyk missed Monday's morning skate after also missing Sunday's practice, but Babcock said the left winger will play against the Bruins.

David Backes will be a gametime decision tonight.

Another day, another big game for the Maple Leafs.

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